Cherokee Co. hires first female uniform deputy in 20 years - FOX Carolina 21

Cherokee Co. hires first female uniform deputy in 20 years

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Newly sworn in Cherokee County deputy Amanda Henderson. (Sept. 5, 2012/FOX Carolina) Newly sworn in Cherokee County deputy Amanda Henderson. (Sept. 5, 2012/FOX Carolina)
Charlene Simmons, Amanda Henderson's grandmother, who was killed in 1995. (Courtesy Amanda Henderson) Charlene Simmons, Amanda Henderson's grandmother, who was killed in 1995. (Courtesy Amanda Henderson)
GAFFNEY, SC (FOX Carolina) -

As Amanda Henderson walks into work at the Cherokee Co. Sheriff's Office, she is a trailblazer, whether she realizes it or not.

She's the first female uniform deputy to walk the halls of the sheriff's office in 20 years.

"I knew there hadn't been a lot of females here, but I didn't know there hadn't been any in uniform patrol (in so long)," she said.

Henderson has spent much of her time learning as much as she can before she goes out on the road, armed and ready.

She's spent most of the past three years working at the Cherokee County Jail, which she described as "a ride."

Beyond her professional experience, there is an even more personal reason for her passion for law enforcement.

SLIDESHOW: Henderson sworn in as deputy

"When I was 6 years old, my grandmother was murdered," Henderson said.

Charlene Simmons was Henderson's grandmother. She was killed in 1995 at a nightclub she owned in Cleveland County, NC. The case went largely unsolved until earlier this year, when three men were arrested for her murder.

Henderson said her grandmother's death was one of the most formative experiences of her life.

Cherokee Co. Sheriff Steve Mueller said Henderson's personal experiences make her that much stronger of a deputy.

"We want qualified people and we're not necessarily looking at what race they are or what sex they are," Mueller said. "We want people who want to make a difference in this community and want to be professional in what they're doing."

Henderson's hiring is part of a larger promise Mueller made to make the Cherokee Co. Sheriff's Office more diverse. Once positions came open, they started looking for more minorities and women.

In the past 18 months, they've hired several African-American officers, and Henderson represents their first female hire. Mueller said the county has had only two other female deputies in the county's entire 115 year history.

"It's time for a female, we're way past due to have a female on the road here in our community serving the citizens, and again, we want more," Mueller said.

Henderson said her hiring is a sense of personal and professional pride. Many want her to succeed, but it's not because of her gender - it's for how strong she is despite such tragedy.

Reflecting on her family, she said, "They're excited to see me get here, especially with my grandma, and everything I've worked towards getting here. To know that it's actually happening, they're really excited."

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